(Photo via Getty)
By Matt Saccaro
Fans didn’t think it could get worse than UFC 169. Then they watched UFC Fight Night 36—a night of fights so horrid even the technical artistry in the main event bout between Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi couldn’t save it.
The negativity ran deeper than the amount of decisions on the card—which was the most common criticism. A decision doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad fight. But a decision that lacks action and is fought between C and D level fighters who aren’t even known by everyone at their respective gyms, let alone the fans, does equate to a bad fight.
I discussed the recent plague of decisions at length after UFC 169. I concluded that the UFC faced three issues:
1. Fighters that are so evenly matched they negate one another.
2. Fighters have become risk-averse—fearful that one loss will send their contract to the paper shredder. Removing submission and knockout of the night bonuses probably didn’t help spur such fighters on to accomplish great in-cage feats.
3. The baseline quality of the average UFC fighter is far lower than it used to be. The days of elite athletes fighting in the “Super Bowl of MMA” are long gone. Welcome to the age of lowered standards; The UFC needs warm bodies to fill out a Fight Pass card in Djibouti. The term “UFC caliber” means nothing.
For the time being, the UFC seems content to ignore these problems to focus on “World Fucking Domination.” They don’t realize marketing what amounts to UFC-branded regional shows in other countries is losing them their fans in the United States. Just look at TUF’s most recent ratings. Fans simply don’t care about the UFC like they did in the halcyon days days of SpikeTV, Brock Lesnar, and PPVs that didn’t hearken to boxing’s age-old strategy of a good main event preceded by an army of no-names. Fans don’t care because what’s there to care about? The product is, to put it simply, lacking. The few remaining big names are islands in a sea of wiki-less, generic UFC fighters™.
This is the situation Bellator finds the MMA landscape in as the Viacom-0wned promotion starts its 10th season…